COVID-19 UPDATE PSATS 033120

Commonwealth Extends Stay-at-Home Order to Beaver, Centre, Washington Counties
This weekend, Gov. Tom Wolf and Secretary of Health Rachel Levine expanded the Stay-at- Home order to include Beaver, Centre, and Washington Counties effective March 28. The order will last until April 6 unless extended. Click here for guidance on the Stay-at-Home order.

As noted previously, local governments are exempt from the stay-at-home order but are urged by the commonwealth to use their best judgment in exercising their authority and to appropriately balance public health and safety while ensuring the continued delivery of critical services and functions.

As of March 29, 58 of 67 counties in Pennsylvania have reported at least one positive case of COVID-19. The full list of counties under a Stay-at-Home order now includes Allegheny, Beaver, Berks, Butler, Bucks, Center, Chester, Delaware, Erie, Lackawanna, Lancaster, Lehigh, Luzerne, Monroe, Montgomery, Northampton, Pike, Philadelphia, Washington, Wayne, Westmoreland, and York Counties.

Wolf Requests Major Disaster Declaration, Announces Relief Efforts
Gov. Tom Wolf has requested a major disaster declaration from President Trump to provide additional support for state, county, and municipal governments and certain nonprofits, as well as individuals struggling during the COVID-19 outbreak.

If approved, the requested declaration will provide the same emergency protective measures and benefits available under the nationwide proclamation, including individual assistance, public assistance, and statewide hazard mitigation.

Wolf also announced this weekend that the state Department of Agriculture has received approval to operate a Disaster Household Distribution Program to help those adversely affected by the statewide COVID-19 mitigation efforts. This will allow the department to more efficiently distribute food through existing food banks and pantries. More information is available on the commonwealth’s Responding to COVID-19 in Pennsylvania website.

The Department of State also announced a series of temporary licensing waivers for health care professionals and others during the COVID-19 disaster declaration. This includes streamlining the reactivation of licenses for retired health care practitioners, allowing services to be provided via telemedicine, and lifting the requirement that certified nurse practitioners practice within a specialty. Click here for more information.

Federal CARES Act Provides Stimulus Funds
President Trump has signed the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES), which is a $2.2 trillion economic relief package. Among many other provisions, it authorizes payments of $1,200 for individuals whose adjusted gross income was $75,000 or less or $2,400 per couple with an adjusted gross income of $150,000 or less, plus $500 per child. The package also provides assistance to hospitals and health care facilities and expands childcare benefits for health care workers and first responders.

The act provides for $150 billion in population based direct relief to state, tribal, and local governments. The bulk of these funds will be provided to states for direct COVID-19 relief efforts, with no state to receive less than $1.25 billion. As defined by the bill, direct application “local government” only applies to those municipalities with a population of 500,000 or more, and any direct payments would be subtracted from that state’s share. It will be up to the commonwealth to determine how to allocate the remaining funds.

PSATS staff continues to analyze the package to determine if and how townships may benefit. 

President Donald Trump Sunday evening extended the social distancing guidelines through April 30 in an effort to slow the spread of Covid-19 and the rising death toll.

Looking for Current List of Life-Sustaining Businesses?
DCED continues to review waiver requests and fine-tune the list of life- and non-life-sustaining businesses. There have been more than 25,000 requests with more than 4,000 approved and 4,400+ denied. For the most current version of the list, go to dced.pa.gov.